Conservative Evangelical fear factor: 4%!!

News & Politics

The "4 percent panic attack" strikes again. This time it's the number of "Bible believers" we'll have in this country if the next generation of evangelicals isn't kept in the fold.

The Times' Laurie Goodstein writes of prominent pastors' latest nightmare:

Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be 'Bible-believing Christians' as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.
The very same numbers were at the fingertips of Becky Fischer, the youth pastor featured prominently in Jesus Camp.

If I'm a consultant for evangelicals, here's what catches my eye right off: Upon informing Goodstein that the 2 million teens he's performed for exceeds Paul McCartney's haul over the past 15 years, Teen Mania founder Ron Luce "bound[s] onstage for the opening pyrotechnics and a prayer."

When competing for today's teens, Paul McCartney references may not be your ideal yardstick.

But keeping with the 4% doctrine, it was curious that Dr. James "Focus on the Family" Dobson brought up that very number at last month's Stand for the Family Rally.

Only he was referring to the number of Muslims who want to kill us:
"We are at war in this country with an enemy who wants to destroy us," he said. He stressed that only a small minority of Muslims believe that their faith justifies violence, "but let's say 4 percent of Muslims want to kill us ... . That's 48 million people who want to bring us to our knees."
To hear the religious right properly, then, we're headed for a battle in which 4% of "bible believing" Christians do battle with 4% of murderous Muslims. Sounds like a fair fight.

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